By Cheryl E. Walters, Apr 28 2016 04:00PM
A Brand is More Than Than The Sum of Your Marketing + Advertising Efforts
Marketing and Advertising are inherent to the success of a company’s positioning within the marketplace. Marketing is the study of consumer behavior, positioning, distribution channels and sales management. Advertising introduces products to the consumer. Both, however, are only tools to connect customers and businesses — they are not “experiences." Branding is more than a logo, product, service or company — it’s a relationship-building process. A brand is what happens when all of these elements are combined to form a complete picture. When this happens successfully, every aspect – logo, product and perception of a company - will resonate with the brand’s message and everything it stands for.
To a Customer, Your Brand Is a Promise
Your brand impression rests in the minds and hearts of your key audience: customers, clients, partners and prospects. It is the sum of their experiences and perceptions of working with your company or using your products. You've heard the phrase, "Perception is reality for the person holding it," right? So how does your brand stack up?
Many of these impressions you can influence, and a strong brand is invaluable in the battle to attract and retain customers. When designed and leveraged correctly, your brand will position you as a leader in your industry.
To an Employee, Your Brand Is Who They Say You Are
As organizations decentralize and experience increased international reach, the demand for a comprehensive internal communications program has grown in tandem. As the need for inter-office communication rises, progressive companies focus their energies to ensure its core values and brand are “evangelized” throughout the organization. How are they doing this? They tie all of their existing communications around their core values and brand so every employee understands and believes in the message behind the brand.
What are Your Company's Core Values?
Before beginning any marketing and advertising campaign – internally or externally – it’s important to define your core values. Core values are attributes your organization has determined as most important to the way you do business, such as:
• Superior knowledge of product or service,
• Innovative, etc.
Core values may not be revealed tangibly, but they are expressed as your organization’s way of doing business – from customer service and direct marketing, to the treatment of your employees and partners. Your core values should be understood and believed by all members of your organization – from senior executives, sales team, customer support, and administrative staff, even your strategic partners and stakeholders. In essence, if your organization believes in them, so will your customers.
If you have the time, let's take a few minutes together and write down the values you believe are most important to your organization.
Your Core Values Defined – In A Word, Sentence & Paragraph
Now that you have identified your organization’s core values, you can then define them further using a "one word, one sentence, and one paragraph" approach. Let's try honing in on three words first. If you were asked to define your company’s core values in three descriptive words, what would they be? Once you have these three words written down, how would you define each one in more detail?
Let’s say you wrote down “Innovative” as one descriptive word. Write down what “Innovative” is and isn’t. For example:
Innovative is not:
Once you have defined each word, describe how each word defines your company. As an example:
“We’re innovative in our quest for ideas and our creation of new business.”
Next, explain this further in a short, 3 to 5-sentence paragraph. For example:
“We challenge conventional thinking by looking to the future – not the past – for answers to today’s challenges. This is how we are able to find the right solution before others have even asked the right question. We believe that if you refuse to be in a box, you don’t have to think outside of one.”
This content can now be used to assist you in the development of a comprehensive marketing plan.
The Road Less-Traveled
Defining your brand is a journey of business self-discovery. It requires that an organization take a good, hard look at how it currently serves its customers and how it could do it better. Internalizing your core values within your organization will help to strengthen employee engagement, increase productivity, gain and retain customers. In the end, isn't this why strong brands are successful?